Trump’s Alt-Reality: White Terrorism against Mosque justifies Muslim Ban

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Trump staffer Stephen Miller, an arch-conservative, defended Trump’s Muslim ban on television Monday by pointing to Europe, where he alleged there were Muslim ghettos that bred radicalism over generations.

While a tiny number of Muslim Europeans deriving from poor neighborhoods have become radicals, they don’t actually appear to come from fundamentalist families and several were actually petty criminals with anything but a puritan style of life before they went radical. In most years in the past decade, Muslim terrorist actions have been like 1% of the European total (2015 obviously was an exception). It is estimated that only 2/5s of French Muslims even consider themselves religious.

Miller lives in a world without facts. He doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to European Muslims and has simply bought a lot of propaganda.

Some of us remember when Stephen Emerson, the self-appointed expert on Muslim extremism and darling of American media who is always wrong about everything, alleged that

“In Britain, it’s not just no-go zones, there are actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in. And, parts of London, there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”

To say the least, these allegations were untrue. Then British PM David Cameron sputtered, “he must be a complete idiot.”

Although the entire British nation and most of Twitter made unbearable fun of Emerson for his ridiculous fantasy, in Stephen Miller’s mind Emerson was perfectly correct. And he and alt-Neo-Nazi Stephen Bannon are now writing legislation on the basis of these Islamophobic fairy tales.

Just how detached from reality these troglodytes are is demonstrated by their reaction to the horrifying Quebec mosque shooting, which was allegedly committed by Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, a far-right young admirer of French extreme nationalist Marine LePen, and of one Donald J. Trump. Like America’s Dylann Roof, he was seduced by the Islamophobic Network that spends millions of dollars a year defaming Muslims. He spoke of being “invaded” by immigrants and of the danger of Canada becoming “like Europe” (no doubt he was afraid of those Birmingham no go zones). He also denounced feminism. His college friends called him an introverted nerd.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer actually cited the mosque shooting as though it had been carried out by a Muslim Canadian and gave it as a reason for which Trump’s Muslim ban had been justified!

Surely if the mosque shooting indicated anything, it is that Trump has no business being president, if he is going to whip up ethnic and religious hatreds even beyond the US borders that result in innocent people being killed.

Spicer was likely misled by the shameful Fox coverage of the mosque shooting, which continued to identify as the suspect a Muslim witness to the shooting who had mistakenly been arrested by Quebec City police in the early confusion, and kept this fake news going for many hours after it had been falsified. Glenn Greenwald pointed this out:

By now, I have little doubt that most Trump supporters firmly believe that the Quebec mosque was shot up by a radical Muslim from Birmingham’s no-go districts and that is why Great Leader has to protect us from damn furriners.

And I no longer have much hope that these false ideas can be challenged by mere evidence and rational argument. We have fallen down the rabbit hole, we’re on the other side of the looking glass, and the Orange Queen insists we must believe six impossible things before breakfast. And the Orange Queen is shouting, “Off with his head!”

Only it is our heads.

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Related video added:

CBC News: “Aftermath of Quebec mosque shooting: CBC News special”

36 Responses

  1. This is an excellent article as regards its logic and ethical stance. But when you are down the rabbit hole and on the other side of the looking glass, standard logic does not apply.

    The public mass, both the right-wingers and the faux left (who are actually right-of-center capitalist thinkers) are being played like the mythical fiddle that Nero played while Rome burned. Everyone is fascinated by the “fiddle” while it’s the burning of Rome which is the whole point. All these provocative presidential decrees are calculated distractions, like the Trump tweets, designed to keep you busy either cheering or booing while the real work of dismantling democracy goes on behind the scenes.

    This is where the art of framing comes into play. Trump and his minions are masters of framing. Those who use standard logic are not, obviously.

    A couple of weeks ago, on the 8 pm news, the main German television station (ARD) played a film clip (made by mobile phone) of the hate speech made by an AfD spokesperson. During the segment, this hate speech was constantly referred to and sections of it repeated and the various speakers always said what a “shame” it was.

    Unfortunately, this type of reporting is what spreads the hate speech to millions of viewers who otherwise would never have heard about it, let alone actually heard the words used. So the tactic of creating a “shameful incident” actually succeeded in spreading the virus of intolerant speech to more people than would normally be reached by the group.

    Instead, without quoting or showing clips of the speech, one could frame a response in such a way:

    “Yes, I heard that one of those people from the far right said some disgusting things. But this is typical of how child molesters and wife-beaters operate. First they use words that incite and then they rape or beat their victims.”

    This is an example of framing. It does not attack a person in particular, it does not quote the perpetrator of the offending statement, it intimates, however, that these people belong to a certain class of predators that are rejected by people on all sides of the political spectrum. It criminalizes them through innuendo, which is exactly what is being done to the “logic” and “ethics” people by the right.

    I know, it feels dirty to do it, but this is a street fight, not boxing with Marquess of Queensberry rules.

    More about framing here: link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Dr. lp – Hi, any way I can use this, caption this to put it on my twitter account’s timeline? Of course with credit to you. I just found this to be the best written piece on the subject of Trump mastering manipulation via framing. Perhaps you have posted it in an article somewhere and I can link it? Thanks.

    • Dr. Ip – Really nice work here especially regarding framing and manipulated distractions.

      The tool “Criminalization” from “Lock her up” to just days after 45 spoke of a “running war’’ with the press, when Herr Bannon directed the media to ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut.’ a less than tacit warning to journalists, everywhere.

      link to kdvr.com

      The “Criminalization” of anyone who dares to even question 45 and his toadies is inevitable and will soon escalate from ”framing” to a more direct approach.

      By years end, the Deportation Army will be pounding on doors searching for brown skin “criminals” and making a recorded pledge of allegiance to 45 from white people. Demanding loyalty is nothing new.

      The future President-elect makes members of his Orlando crowd raise their right hands and swear to vote in the primary. pic.twitter.com/EVenRilJrV

  2. It is debatable whether the Quebec City attacker is a far-right extremist, as this observation is based on the fact a link to the French far-right Marine Le Pen was found on a social account; that alone does not make him an extremist; it’s also unlikely his upbringing in a small town in Quebec where there are very few foreigners, if any, could have made him so.
    What likely explains his action is the debate in Quebec about some foreigners; this debate often centers on Muslim women wearing a hijab, something many French Quebecers view as a sign they don’t want to integrate into the French majority culture, choosing English over French as their everyday language. This is what riles a lot of French nationalists who view this as a threat to the survival of French and explains why they want to separate from the rest of Canada. But these separatists – and Bissonette is likely one of them — are very much on the left of the political spectrum and would never espouse any of the GOP policies as far-right extremists do in the US.

    So Bissonette is now a terrorist — something some people seem to turn into almost overnight ; but is he also an extremist – which is rather the result of one’s whole upbringing and environment ?

    • “Is he also an extremist… ?” A guy shoots 8 strangers dead ‘ not for personal reasons but for ideological ones, and you can’t decide whether he is ‘an extremist’ ?

    • What does it take to be a far-right extremist, if not shooting people who are not Christian? Seems to me that’s the definition of a far-right extremist.

      And you’re right that it’s unlikely that anyone in a little town Quebec would be spouting homicidal hatred against Moslems. There’s debate, sure, but it’s a quiet country, has been since the end of the FLQ, and that suggests all the more that this shooter was radicalized by the alt-right, over the internet.

      This was a Trump shooting.

      I don’t think anyone from Quebec is going to doubt that.

      • According to Yves Boisvert of La Presse (center in European standards), who specializes in aspects of the law,
        police sources say what goes on in the US came up during the interrogation as a motive.
        The killer acted few days after the Trump decree.
        link to lapresse.ca

        These are cautious terms because if legally there were compelling proof of a direct link there would be a prosecution. Trump or extreme-right trash radio (they welcome the label) did not directly tell Bissonnette to launch the shooting.

      • Terrorism is a legal term: if an assailant injures someone, he will get a jail term but if terrorism can be proven, he will get a stiffer jail term. In this case, he will spend the rest of his life in jail anyway.
        Legally it’s very difficult to prosecute for terrorism when there’s only one assailant unless he confesses or writes a manifest beforehand.

        The extreme-right wing trash radio (they don’t mind the label and cheer at extreme-right gains everywhere) have the same responsibility some radical imams have in radicalization. They legitimize the hatred.

  3. Newspapers and broader viewership websites like Huffington can do succinct, well-designed de-bunking, through boxes and other graphic techniques.

    These guys will always be able to maintain the initiative with more lies, so the reponse must be enduring, stubborn engagement on everyones part.

    The next phase, in response to such engagement, would be a national emergency of some type to drown you out. So, expect that response and be prepared.

  4. Something is seriously wrong when we retaliate against those who didn’t attack us, yet we ally with those who did. Questioning any of this strategy gets you deemed a conspiracy crazed nut, or you are accused of having a lack of patriotism. Carl Rove once made a statement where he claimed how ‘we make our own reality’. He wasn’t talking about you and I little people creating a reality, no he was referring to the power elite forming the narrative we must live by. With this narrative we little people support the power elite by purchasing rolls of duct tape, suspecting anyone who doesn’t look like us to be illegal terrorist, as we willingly allow our civil rights to be lessened down to dirt, and this happens all because we bought into ‘Their’ reality. You have heard the saying how the truth will set you free, well not only will the truth set us free, but the truth will bring ‘Them’ down.

    “You can’t handle the truth” Colonel Nathan R. Jessup USMC
    Jack Nicholson ‘A Few Good Men’

    All I can say to our keepers if they use the words of Colonel Jessup to me is, ‘try me’!

    • This is why the above observation about framing is so critical.

      Resistors can and must counter these individual lies, but by framing their responses more strategically… By addressing the framing… They stand to be far MORE effective.

      Essentially, people need to discover for themselves how they are being played for saps.

      “Educating” them, in a vacuum, just makes them dig in their heels.

  5. PRECISELY!

    Muslims should be denied entry (most should probably be deported) because their mere presence promotes violence. “White” guys who are perfectly normal in every other way are driven to violence by the knowledge that other kinds of folks are living among them.

    This Bissonnette fellowis just a sensitive young man driven to mass shooting by circumstances beyond his control, rather like Dylann Roof in South Carolina. Why if only all “those people” had been sent back to Africa long ago, he would never have felt compelled to murder nine of them. Poor, sensitive lad!

    I wish there were an obvious solution to the problem of frightened little boys – Donald Trump included – lashing out against imagined threats to their world.

    • The interesting question is just who would have to be “sent back” in order to make little (fingers) Donald feel safe. Based on his speech today at the National Prayer Breakfast, the list might include not just everyone who’s not white. It might include everyone who’s not a fervent observant Christian. We knew he was gunning for Moslems, Mexicans, and foreigners early on; from the sounds of it, people who don’t go to church every Sunday are in the queue.

      As with his stated foreign enemies list, which started with ISIS, but has since expanded to encompass Mexico, China, Iran, Germany, the EU, and now Australia.

      One thing that’s notable about Donald is that his in-group seems to be shrinking, and the out-group is getting larger all the time.

      The accepted countries list will likely end up including only one: Israel. No other friends, no other allies.

      And the domestic in-group, the ones who are ‘real Americans’, the ones who have rights, and get to stay, looks like eventually coming down to just his family.

  6. “And I no longer have much hope that these false ideas can be challenged by mere evidence and rational argument”

    This is possibly the scariest (and truest) thing I’ve read in the last 6 months.

    • I agree and share the obvious frustrations of those who know better.

      The challenge becomes not just to know better, but how to communicate that knowledge in a way that will be meaningful to those who are often pridefully ignorant.

      The answer is not to show them they are fools, like Obama, or that you’re so much smarter.

      The key is to make it impersonal, and address the framing.

      People, in general, arr not so stupid, but they are uninformed and evidently prone to being played.

      Keep discussions direct. Avoid the traps of polemics and personalization. Focusing on the underlying context and framing goes far further.

      The point at which they begin to recognize the superficiality, wherever it arises, is the point you begin to win…one mind at a time. And those minds can and will influence others.

  7. Trump is so far gone that no one could tell the “real” president from the president tripping on LSD.

  8. Let’s not forget that Alexandre Bissonette is a fan of the IDF as well. Israel plays a large role in the lies industry dedicated to the creation of a false narrative concerning Muslim and non-Jewish Middle Easterners in Europe and North America.

    See also: lies about Hamas being “the same as” ISIS. Or the lie that Beirut, Lebanon, is no different culturally then Tora Bora whilst under Taliban rule.

  9. I wonder how much longer the give-him-a-chance brigade will continue to cite this mantra after each abuse committed by president Trump!

    • When you come to think about it Bill we have all known Donald Trump for a very long time. Trump’s personality will shine in his ‘you want very rich’ really great Adminstration to where you will need the darkest toned sunglasses to get a safe glimpse at it…it will be beautiful, to look at it like the Taj Mahal, which my kids have a bid in on that wonderful piece of history. When can you remember the Donald ever humbling his self, and not that I want a wimp president, but more so a person who looks at people and life in a fair way, and a president who will abide by the U.S. Constitution to the best of his ability.

      Eleven days in and between Trump, and Sean Spicer, it sounds like a 3rd world despot suddenly took over the American government. Carried away? to soon to criticize? I don’t know you tell me, but don’t forget how Trump has been in our lives for a very longtime now, so dig deep down into your brain, for as long as your memory can recall, for we have known this Trump Royal Creature for far to long.

      Let’s all hope he let’s the protesters go, because if he gets advice from guys like Rudy, those protesters are in trouble.

  10. The comments in some websites are already full of Islamaphobes claiming that a Moroccan was also involved in the Mosque shooting, implying that this was a Muslim against Muslim killing. We are living in an alternate reality and we should be aware that those waging a campaign against Muslims are making up alternate facts as a means of brainwashing haters like the man who walked into a Mosque and killed innocent people while they prayed.

    • If you can keep your head when all about you
      Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
      If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
      But make allowance for their doubting too;
      If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
      Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
      Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
      And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

      If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
      If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
      If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
      And treat those two impostors just the same;
      If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
      Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
      Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
      And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

      If you can make one heap of all your winnings
      And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
      And lose, and start again at your beginnings
      And never breathe a word about your loss;
      If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
      To serve your turn long after they are gone,
      And so hold on when there is nothing in you
      Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

      If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
      Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
      If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
      If all men count with you, but none too much;
      If you can fill the unforgiving minute
      With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
      Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
      And—which is more—you’ll be a Man (Woman), my son (girl)! Rudyard Kipling

      • I really love this. My late father used to quote verses from this wonderful poem to us when we were young. Thanks.

  11. Yes, only page one and we are down the rabbit hole…unless credible public figures immediately confront the orange idiot in public, using unflinching and hard-hitting rhetoric, in press conferences, during news briefings, interrupting non-sensical statements, “alternative” facts and the like, then the numbing and dumbing down, the normalizing of this unreality, will continue and may be come accepted as “inevitable.”

  12. Talk about terrorism … I wonder if Native Americans wished they would have put a ban on white christians from Europe
    400 years ago.

  13. I don’t know why it’s gained such wide currency but can we please dispense of the silly “alt” moniker? These clowns are racists and bigots. Period. And President Bannon knows exactly which dog whistles he’s blowing – such as in the WH’s latest comment about the Holocaust, which was so beloved by alt, err, I mean neo-nazis and klanners everywhere.

  14. I saw a post on Facebook last night from a history professor which reminded me of an important book I had forgotten about. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, which I recommend highly, shows how capitalists and dictators use crises, often manufactured, to get radical things done against the will of the people. What we are seeing from the Trump Administration is a perfect example of the Shock Doctrine at work.

    • The sickest part of the Trump joke is that he came to power by essentially accusing the Democrats of carrying out the Shock Doctrine – then he went ahead and actually did it himself. The key? The need of the fascist mentality to divide the capitalist elite into patriots and traitors based on ethnic stereotypes, then blame the ills of capitalism entirely on the latter.

  15. While the Donald and his Islamophobic followers are well known in the U.S we have here in Canada, alas, our own coterie of political personae who have been fanning the flames of hatred for some time. There was in Tuesday’s NY Times an excellent opinion piece from a great Canadian journalist, now retired, Haroon Siddiqui. Well worth a read.

  16. Juan,

    Please see link to twitter.com

    From the tweet by @GovernorOopsies it is a screen grab before Facebook took down Bissonnette’s Facebook page.

    This photo must have been after Trump signed the Muslim Ban. On the same day Bissonnett celebrated presumably the Muslim Ban by writing “Hallelujah!” above his posted photo of a crusader about to kill someone. Two nights later, he went into the mosque and killed and injured many.

    This shows how Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional ban has led to the final inspiration to carry out this carnage.

    And the 6 killed is 6 more than what any immigrants or refugees from any of the 7 countries killed from looking at the data from 1975 to now…. zero were killed.

  17. To emphasize how important framing is, George Lakoff has been preaching this for some time. This is based on solid social science research. Especially with conservatives, many voters respond to issues emotionally, not logically and rationally. Thus, you need to reach them on an emotional level. Sound bites work. the following is a bit long and overwritten, but still important: link to huffingtonpost.com In the case of Trump, I think the best approach is to emphasize the Russian connection and that Putin was a communist and KGB officer, leader. I think most conservatives are very uneasy with this. I have taken to calling him Comrade Trump, the Moscow Candidate. I saw a sign at the Women’s March that said Trump is Putin’s Apprentice. I think this is the best way to undermine him among those who voted for him.

  18. It helps to understand why they lie. Consider the explanation Elliott Lusztig (@ezlusztig) tweeted:
    ‘Hannah Arendt in her book The Origin of Totalitarianism provides a helpful guide for interpreting the language of fascists. She noted how decent liberals of 1930s Germany would “fact check” the Nazis’ bizarre claims about Jews like they were meant to be factual. What they failed to understand, Arendt suggests, is that the Nazi Jew hating was not a statement of fact but a declaration of intent. So when someone would blame the Jews for Germany’s defeat in WW1, naïve people would counter by saying there’s no evidence of that. What the Nazis were doing was not describing what was true, but what would have to be true to justify what they planned to do next. Did 3 million “illegals” cast votes in this election? Clearly not. But fact checking is just a way of playing along with their game. What Trump is saying is not that 3m illegals voted. What he’s saying is: I’m going to steal the voting rights of millions of Americans.’

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